Times of Change
This time of change from summer to fall can be sad for some of us. The days are shorter, the sun goes down earlier, and the habits of summer give way to the new patterns of behavior that are more akin to fall and winter.
With fall and winter around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) begin their public outreach about flu season, our sleep patterns change with the end of Daylight Savings Time in early November, and our dietary cravings can also lean towards different foods.
Some studies show that we crave more carbohydrates as the weather turns colder, and there are theories that this is actually due to depression caused by decreases in exposure to sunlight; we thus may eat more carbs in order to lift our mood.
Staying aware of how things are shifting for you is a very good way to know what's happening, and it's great to take steps when some of those changes aren't necessarily in the best interest of your health.
Summer foods can tend to be lighter for many of us; we eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, we may be more prone to eat salads and light meals, and we likely crave fewer heavy carb-rich foods like we do in winter.
If you're managing diabetes, the awareness of shifts in your eating habits and cravings from season to season is important to maintain.
Summer can be a time when many of us exercise more. In summer, we may swim, bicycle, run, and otherwise take advantage of longer days, more sunlight, and the draw of the great outdoors.
As the weather cools, we may have difficulty shifting to a wintertime workout schedule, and getting home from work after dark can preclude many of the types of exercise that we enjoy in summer. A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that older adults' exercise habits can change significantly in winter; this is also important for younger people to keep in mind, as well.
If you experience changes in your mood patterns as summer ends and fall begins, this is something to maintain awareness of in terms of your health-related habits. If signs of depression are common for you as the weather gets chilly and there is less sunlight, take proactive steps to counteract those changes.
Psychotherapy, mindfulness about your diet, light therapy, or working with a personal trainer or taking a fitness class can help you to boost your mood and feel like you're moving forward and helping yourself, and there's no shame in reaching out for help if you need it.
Awareness, Awareness, Awareness
Whether it's your emotional health, diet, nutrition, or exercise patterns, self-awareness is key. Be aware, understand that the change of seasons can be a challenge, and be proactive in seeking the support you need in order to maintain your health throughout the year.